Ethiopia : U.S embassy justifies closure, precautional measures

U.S. Embassy compound. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo : RR

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ADV) – Americans requiring emergency assistance in Ethiopia on Wednesday began benefiting from them as their country’s embassy suspends operations there in the face of potentially disruptive public demonstrations.

Further to that, the American Center in Addis Ababa and the Satchmo Center at the U.S. Embassy will be closed tomorrow, Thursday, a U.S. embassy statement said on Wednesday.

It said all services and appointments have been canceled and urged the public to reschedule their appointments via the embassy website.

The diplomatic mission explained that it disposed of abundant reason to dish out the precautionary measures which many Ethiopians and the state-run media are skeptical about and requested justification from the U.S. Mission.

The mission retorted in a tweet on Wednesday explaining that: ” we have to make decisions about security even if the info is not specific, adding, US law requires us to share that decision publicly. We decided to be cautious. We hope today is calm and peaceful in Addis.”

The American mission has however appealed for calm and urged those behind the demonstrations, to resort to peaceful means of resolving the crisis.

Since nearly a week, ethno-politically motivated skirmishes that have pitched armed civilian gangs and law enforcement operatives over government reforms, have left an unspecified number of persons dead, scores injured and property vandalized and burned.

The incident took off in the sprawling Burayu township and has been systematically pumping thousands of persons to scampering for safety in Addis Ababa.

The tension came to a head on Monday, when the township became the theatre of running battles pitching riot police and rag-tag civilian gangs.

The tension continued to Tuesday amid civil society representatives continued call, amplifying that of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for calm but to no avail.

Burayu is located in the Oromia regional state – the seat of erstwhile armed opposition groups to Ethiopia’s former governments.

In Addis, riot police are visible at many intersections waiting to slug it out highly mobile civilian gangs that could be gearing up for the city center which the government is bound to maintain at all cost.

Premier Ahmed is already on record for having given the tall order to security operatives to « do all it takes to defend the rule of law ».

Commercial and social activities including internet connections have virtually ground to a halt as demonstrators increase the tempo and advance up to the capital, Addis Ababa.

Analysts are expressing apprehension that the ethno-politically motivated incidents could systematically degenerate into a nationwide crisis that could eventually force Premier Ahmed to resign.

Last week, the erstwhile armed renegade Oromo leader Berhanu Nega who returned to Ethiopia after 11 years of self-imposed exile in neighboring Eritrea expressed doubts over Premier Ahmed’s reforms.

Here is what he said: «We know that the political reform process still faces risks from those who want to sabotage it as well as those impatient with the pace of things,» he said.

Nega returned home thanks to the incumbent Premier Abiy Ahmed’s removal of Nega’s group from the list of terror organizations imposed by former governments.

“We encourage all those involved in the demonstrations to express themselves peacefully,” the statement issued on Tuesday concluded.

© Bur-csa – N.A / From our regional correspondent Tamba Jean-Matthew III – African Daily Voice (ADV)